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5 things to know about Bottlefork, now open in River North

Former Allium chef Kevin Hickey is in the kitchen at Billy Dec's new restaurant

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Bottlefork
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Buttermilk fried rabbit leg at Bottlefork.
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Losna cocktail at Bottlefork.
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Bottlefork
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Bottlefork
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Manilla Clam + portuguese sausage flatbread at Bottlefork.
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Bottlefork
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Loft on broadway at Bottlefork.
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Smoked salmon layered "parfait" at Bottlefork.
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Bottlefork
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In a jar appetizers at Bottlefork.
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Bottlefork
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Tuna crudo in a jar at Bottlefork.
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Bottlefork
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Chicken liver & foie gras mousse at Bottlefork.
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Smoked salmon layered "parfait" at Bottlefork.
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Root cellar wort at Bottlefork
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Bottlefork

When Kevin Hickey announced he was leaving his post at Allium last September, it was a shock. Then 15 minutes later we received a press release that he was going to be opening a restaurant with Billy Dec that would replace Dragon Ranch, which closed after a fire last January and never reopened.

That day is here—Bottlefork (441 N Clark St) is soft opening right now and you can make dinner reservations starting Tuesday. We recently caught up with the duo to talk about what to expect.

The menu is designed so people can “create their own kind of experience.”
There are numerous categories, including snacks, shareable, and knife and fork, which means you can order an entrée for a traditional dinner, or fill the table with snacks over cocktails.

The kitchen and bar are closely intertwined. 
“It’s more than 'this beer tastes great with this sausage.' Or 'order this wine with this dish,'” Dec says. “We’re going to do that, of course, but we’re going deeper than that.”

For example: The kitchen smoked a pig, which had been fed spent grains and vegetables that were used in making a beer that’s available at the restaurant. Then a cocktail will be made with drippings from the smoker.

Hickey is continuing his relationship with Begyle Brewing.
He started making beer with Begyle while he was at Allium, and for Bottlefork he made Root Cellar Rye, ”rye ale done Belgian-style.” Hickey says it’s a “wintry beer” that’s made with sugar beets, parsnips and celeriac from Nichols Farms. Look for a new beer in the spring.

The cocktail list is outrageous.
The Drawing Room’s Brandon Phillips is in charge of the bar, and he’s made a list of classics (Manhattans, boulevardiers) plus ridiculous things like the $22 the Whale, a martini made with vodka or gin, plus vermouth, orange citrus bitters and a caviar olive, and the $25 Brandy & Cigars, with brandy and a Honduran cigar.  

Order the Rich Man Po’boy.
“It’s a combination of a New England lobster roll and a po’boy,” Hickey says. “It’s a really over-the-top sandwich. I love a good po’boy and I also love a great lobster and the combination of the two seemed like a good idea.” He takes it to another level with the addition of foie gras mousse.

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